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‘This is my story, but it is also the story of thousands of Australian veterans from Iraq, East Timor, Afghanistan and other conflicts who bare similar emotional scars. This is what becomes of those men and women we send off to war, pay little attention to, then forget once they are home.’
As a country boy from Queensland, John Cantwell signed up to the army as a private and rose to the rank of major general. He was on the front line in 1991 as Coalition forces fitted bulldozer blades to tanks and buried alive Iraqi troops in their trenches. He fought in Baghdad in 2006 and saw what a car bomb does to a marketplace crowded with women and children. In 2010 he commanded the Australian forces in Afghanistan when ten of his soldiers were killed. He returned to Australia in 2011 to be considered for the job of chief of the Australian Army. Instead, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man’s tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy of calling home while under rocket fire in Baghdad, to the utter despair of looking into the face of a dead soldier before sending him home to his mother. He has hidden his post traumatic stress disorder for decades, fearing it will affect his career.
Australia has been at war for the past twenty years and yet there has been no stand-out account from these conflicts— Exit Wounds is it. Raw, candid and eye-opening, no one who reads this book will be unmoved, nor forget its imagery or words.
'A brilliant piece of work.' Geraldine Brooks
About the Authors
Major General John Cantwell AO, DSC joined the Australian Army as a private in 1974. He served in the first Gulf War with the Coalition forces between 1990 and 1991, and in the second Gulf War in 2006 and 2007, where he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Army. In 2010 he served a twelve-month tour as the commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross in the 2012 Australia Day Honours List. Cantwell retired from the Army in 2012 after 38 years of service.
Greg Bearup has been a feature writer at GOOD WEEKEND magazine for the past eight years. During his time on the magazine he has twice been awarded a Walkley Award for his writing. Prior to working on the magazine he worked for the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD for seven years, primarily as a crime reporter. He has lived and worked in Pakistan, Arghanistan and Syria, from where he filed for THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES and THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR. He currently lives in Sydney with his partner Lisa and their toddler son, Joe.
We tend to make comment about our Service Personal lightly and without real facts and expect them to act professinaly. Showing little true intrest in how it affects them. Here I got a glimpse and I am in aure of John Cantwell and his family.
This was a reference point for me personally and also for my professional work.
As soon as I started reading the book I literally could not put it down. Major General John Cantwell opens up about what the Army does overseas on a day to day basis and what effects the horror of war can do to your soul. He does not pull any punches when describing his battle with PTSD and Depression. His photo on the front cover conveys strength and compassion. Amazing.
its a really good read and helps you understand how this man feels about us being in afghanistan and how he feels about it all. describes PTSD really well.
A great read. Makes one question why the heck after 10 Years Aussies are still in Afghanistan considerring WWII was only 6 years.
Prompt delivery appreciated
I became aware of this book when I stumbled upon a television interview with the author one day. I think it might have been ABC's 'One Plus One'. Anxiety disorders and mental illness have been topics of interest for me for a long time. When I realised that John's book was not just an exposé of his time in war, but also a rare glimpse into his subsequent battle against PTSD, I headed straight for the Booktopia website. The first two parts of this book read much like a novel. You feel that you are there in the thick of the action. However, I became worried about half way through the third part that the book was predominantly a blow-by-blow account of events, rather than the deeper treatment of PTSD related mental illness or a comment about the justification for war that I had been hoping for. To some degree this criticism is valid, but I was yet to read the epilogue. I would advise reading the book twice. Once straight through, and then again having digested the conclusions John reaches in the beautifully written epilogue (the whole book is beautifully written on the whole). The obvious honesty - and bravery - of John's writing in the epilogue is further highlighted on reading the acknowledgements section. Here it becomes clear that many of the high ranking US and UK soldiers that have appeared in the book, also provided advice on relevant sections of its writing. Although it might have seemed reasonable for the reader to assume this from the outset, when I was faced with this fact - immediately after reading the epilogue - I couldn't help but feel an even greater surge of admiration for the man. Australia salutes you for your service John, both in the field of battle, and in the subsequent battle against status quo thinking that all too often dooms us to a future of repeating our past mistakes. A highly recommended read.
sneakingly read the book before giving it as a present.
The one sentence from Exit Wounds that sums up retired Major General John Cantwell as a commander is: "As much as possible I shield the unit commanders in Afghanistan from the deadening touch of defence bureaucrats and political wrangling, but not always successfully". John has demystified, in my view, one star rank and above. The Australian generals of the 70s and 80s who influenced my early army career, and dare I say John's, still mostly displayed the British "stiff upper lip" attitude of show no emotion. John has shattered that myth forever. He has also reminded me about the positive aspects of army mate ship and camaraderie, which have been and will be evident for time immemorial. John has provided a fascinating insight into the policy and decision making at senior officer level, and shown that even at his level, an army general on leave is still at the mercy of policies of "the muted defence public affairs machinery." While every combat death is sad, the saddest incident for me was the one involving the two soldiers who detonated a buried improvised explosive device while doing pushups in their platoon over watch position. As I finished John's story I was left with a strong wish that his mates from the first gulf war, Steve and Pete, who John said he has not been able to reconnect with, will get to read this moving account of the unique experience they shared together on the battlefield.
Number Of Pages: 388
Published: 1st October 2012
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.4 x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.53
Edition Number: 1